Annual festival of Our Lady of Snows Basilica to be celebrated without devotees

The 439th annual festival of Our Lady of Snows Basilica, which will start on July 26 with flag-hoisting, will be conducted without participation of the parishioners this year also due to COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions.

The annual feast that would start with the flag-hoisting on July 26 would culminate with the High Mass to be celebrated on August 5. Since the lockdown restrictions were imposed in March 2020, the celebrations were organised last year without participation of the devotees. However, all the celebrations were televised live on YouTube and local television channels.

Since the COVID-19 restrictions are still in place with the ‘third wave’ threat looming large, District Collector K. Senthil Raj chaired a meeting at the Collectorate on Thursday which was attended by Superintendent of Police S. Jayakumar, Minister for Social Welfare P. Geetha Jeevan and Bishop of Thoothukudi RC Diocese Most Rev. Fr. Stephen Antony.

Ms. Geetha, while addressing the meeting, said all prayers and celebrations would be conducted in the Basilica as government had given a few relaxations, but without the participation of the parishioners, who could view and participate in the prayers and Holy Masses to be televised live. “We seek everyone’s cooperation in this connection,” she said.

Speaking to reporters after emerging from the meeting Most Rev. Fr. Stephen Antony said the flag-hoisting would be conducted without people’s participation on July 26 and the holy masses would be held as usual and the parishioners would not be allowed to participate due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The flag procession, eucharistic procession and car festival would not be conducted this year.

“We appeal to everyone to devoutly participate in these celebrations through online platform as we’ve made extensive arrangements for televising the holy events online. Let us pray together to the Blessed Holy Mother to assuage this pandemic situation,” Most Rev. Fr. Stephen Antony said.

However, the devotees may visit the church in regulated fashion to offer their prayers when there was no holy event, he noted.

District Revenue Officer Kannapiraan, Rector of Our Lady of Snows Basilica Rev. Fr. Kumar Raja and parish council members were present.

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